coffee explained

Can Coffee Get Moldy?


Yes, your coffee can get moldy. How you may ask. Well, here is your guide to knowing if there’s mold on coffee, and how you can prevent this from happening to your stash.

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Do Coffee Beans Have Mold?

Before you worry about coffee getting moldy, you may want to consider whether your coffee beans already have mold. Yes, unfortunately, this was an issue that many coffee lovers had to face.

This is because coffee beans tend to harbor a toxin known as ochratoxin A or OTA. Mold flourish in warm and moist areas – the kind of climate that coffee grows best in. So, if the fresh green coffee beans have not been dried properly, there is a risk that this kind of mold will grow on the beans.

However, you will be happy to know that these fears have now been put to rest.

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To begin with, the coffee that ends up on your store shelves has been tested and put through many quality control processes. So, if there was a significant amount of mold on the coffee beans, this would have been detected and the batch would have promptly been destroyed.

Even if some mold does make it onto your coffee, the experts have found that it can’t do much damage. This is because even drinking even up to 4 cups of mold-infested coffee a day won’t result in any side effects.

Can Dry Coffee Get Moldy?

OK, you don’t have to worry about the mold on coffee beans. However, is it possible for dry coffee beans or grounds to become moldy as well?

Technically, mold can grow on most foods or dry goods, including coffee. It isn’t too common to find mold on coffee beans. This is because the spores prefer food with high water content. They also thrive in environments that are moist and highly oxygenated.

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However, if your coffee beans or grounds have been left open to the air for some time and kept in a dark and moist environment, there is a chance that mold may begin to grow on them.

How Do You Know If Coffee is Moldy?

How do you know if your coffee beans or grounds have gotten moldy?

Well, the first thing you should do is examine the grounds or beans carefully. Do you notice any white fuzz on the coffee? In some cases, this fuzz may be tinged with yellow or blue. The white fuzz may also look a bit like cobwebs if it has spread.

If you notice these signs, then mold is certainly growing on your coffee.

Just because you don’t see mold doesn’t mean that it hasn’t begun to take root. Due to this, it’s a good idea to take a whiff of the coffee. Don’t inhale deeply as you don’t want to breathe in any spores! Mold often smells musty and earthy – quite different from the sharp, acrid smell of coffee.

In general, you can expect mold-infested coffee to simply smell “off”.

Let’s imagine that you haven’t noticed any of these signs and have brewed your coffee. There is one more indication that your coffee may be moldy. If your coffee smells dank or like wet earth, then this is most probably due to mold.

That being said, you should be concerned about any unusual taste in your coffee.

Why is There Mold in My Coffee?

It can be incredibly frustrating to find mold growing in your coffee. You may be also wondering how on earth the mold made its way into your coffee grounds. This is especially true if you take great pains to keep your coffee all sealed up!

As mentioned, there are a few factors that cause mold to grow – these include a moist environment, exposure to oxygen, and darkness.

Well, once your coffee has been roasted – and sometimes ground – it is immediately vacuum-packed into packages. However, when you open up a package, you expose the beans or the grounds to air and oxygen.

By itself, this isn’t an issue. However, the longer you expose the coffee to air, the greater the chance that you’re exposing the beans to mold spores as well.

It’s more likely for mold to grow if any kind of moisture reaches the beans or grounds. Remember, this doesn’t mean that the coffee has to be damp. If there is any kind of moisture in the air where your coffee beans are stored, then mold can immediately take root and affect the beans.

In many instances, people unknowingly store coffee in conditions that are perfect for mold growth. This is because coffee beans should be stored in a dark area as sunlight can cause the coffee to degrade. Unfortunately, if the area is damp, this can boost the presence of mold.

How Long Does It Take for Mold to Grow on Coffee?

It is difficult to know just how long it will take for mold to grow on coffee. This is because there are numerous factors at play here.

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For instance, you should have some idea of when your coffee may have been exposed to mold spores. You will also need to have a rough idea of whether a few or many mold spores made contact.

Remember, the mold will only flourish if it is exposed to moisture and darkness. As a result, when the coffee is exposed to these elements, it can also determine when mold will cover a significant portion of your coffee.

On average, it can take between 3 to 12 days before you will begin to see mold colonies.

Is Coffee Mold Dangerous?

Needless to say, you need to know if the mold on your coffee can cause serious harm to your health. Is this a possibility?

There is no denying that the mold typically identified on coffee can be harmful. In large doses, it can be considered carcinogenic and may increase your risk of developing certain types of cancers. In addition to this, there is a form of mold that can do damage to your kidneys as well as your brain.

Before you go ahead and dump out your coffee, keep in mind that the risk of you getting sick is very low.

First, as mentioned, even drinking several cups of coffee a day will only expose you to minute amounts of mold. This is not enough to do any kind of damage, let alone for you to experience side effects or other symptoms.

There is also the fact that your liver is responsible for neutralizing these mold spores. Even if they do enter your body, your system is more than capable of getting rid of the risk so that it doesn’t do any kind of damage to your body.

May Trigger Allergies

Some people believe that the traces of mold in coffee may trigger allergies. They also claim that you may experience respiratory distress or digestive issues. However, there is no research so far to back up these possibilities.

Nevertheless, it can’t hurt to be cautious, particularly if you do have numerous allergies. To determine whether your coffee is triggering any allergies, make note of how you feel after a cup. For the best results, do this on an empty stomach so that the results can’t be skewed.

If you feel like your allergies are coming on or if you are worse for wear, this may be a sign that the mold is causing certain health problems. In case you feel fine, then this is not a problem for you.

How to Choose Coffee Beans Without Mold

Let’s say that you don’t want to go through the risk of consuming any mold when you drink your coffee. In this case, there are a few ways you can ensure that your coffee is completely mold-free.

Buy Local

Coffee goes through several processes from the time the beans are picked to when they end up on the shelves of your grocery store. Due to this, it can be tricky to know whether the coffee may have picked up mold spores at some point.

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When you buy coffee that has been locally sourced, roasted, and packaged, it is much easier to track these processes and reassure yourself of the quality. Due to this, you may want to head up to your local roasters to get your coffee. Just make sure that they meet proper safety and quality standards.

Run a Quality Background Check

Another thing you can do is to list out your favorite coffee brands. Then, send each of them an email requesting proof of third-party tests for mold or toxins. If the company has nothing to hide, they will comply with the reports.

This will allow you to see whether or not there is any mold in the coffee and be assured of your safety.

Opt for a Mold-Free Coffee Brand

Some coffee brands claim to be completely mold-free. So, of course, this can be a good option for you. However, you shouldn’t take the company at their word – always ask for proof so that you can be sure of their claims.

Remember, for the coffee to be considered truly mold-free, it must be tested and approved by a third party. It is also a good idea to check that the third-party testing company is a trustworthy and legitimate agency.

How to Prevent Mold from Growing on Your Coffee

One of your best options to keep your coffee safe from mold is to store it properly. Here are the guidelines you need to follow to ensure this:

Keep Away from Humid Areas

Kitchens are a lot more humid than most people realize. Between cooking and having all those machines that give off heat, there is plenty of moisture in the air, especially if the area is poorly ventilated.

So, your first task is to store the coffee in an area away from all these appliances or machines. Make sure that it is stored in a cool and dry cabinet. You don’t have to keep the coffee in your kitchen – find another spot in the house if you need to.

Store in Airtight Container

Once the vacuum seal on the packaging of your coffee is broken, it needs to be transferred into an airtight container. And yes, it is important to make sure that the container does have an airtight seal.

Don’t leave the lid of this container open for too long, either. Simply scoop the coffee out and close it back up immediately.

There you have it. Your coffee can get moldy, but there is much more to the story than you may have realized. Now that you know exactly how this happens, you can take the necessary precautions. In turn, you will be able to make your coffee last a lot longer! You will also notice that it tastes much better overall.


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About the author


Samuel is a coffee lover and a writer. He's travelled extensively throughout Southeast Asia and has soaked up the sun, the culture, and of course - the coffee. He loves to write about his experiences, and he hopes to travel even more in the future.

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